The Bill of Rights: A User's Guide (Paperback)
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With a foreword by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court.
An Engaging, Accessible Guide to the Bill of Rights for Everyday Citizens.
In The Bill of Rights: A User's Guide, award-winning author and constitutional scholar Linda R. Monk explores the remarkable history of the Bill of Rights amendment by amendment, the Supreme Court's interpretation of each right, and the power of citizens to enforce those rights.
Stories of the ordinary people who made the Bill of Rights come alive are featured throughout. These include Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper who became a national civil rights leader; Clarence Earl Gideon, a prisoner whose handwritten petition to the Supreme Court expanded the right to counsel; Mary Beth Tinker, a 13-year-old whose protest of the Vietnam War established free speech rights for students; Michael Hardwick, a bartender who fought for privacy after police entered his bedroom unlawfully; Suzette Kelo, a nurse who opposed the city's takeover of her working-class neighborhood; and Simon Tam, a millennial whose 10-year trademark battle for his band "The Slants" ended in a unanimous Supreme Court victory. Such people prove that, in the words of Judge Learned Hand, "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court, can save it."
Exploring the history, scope, and meaning of the first ten amendments-as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, which nationalized them and extended new rights of equality to all-The Bill of Rights: A User's Guide is a powerful examination of the values that define American life and the tools that every citizen needs.
About the Author
Linda R. Monk, J.D., is a constitutional scholar, journalist, and nationally award-winning author. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she twice received the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for public education about the law. Her books include The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution, Ordinary Americans: U.S. History Through the Eyes of Everyday People, and The Bill of Rights: A User's Guide. For more than twenty-five years, Ms. Monk has written commentary for newspapers nationwide-including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune, and Huffington Post.
Foreword Contributor: Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Born in 1933, Ruth Bader Ginsburg attended the Harvard and Columbia University Law Schools, and taught law at Rutgers and Columbia. During the 1970s, while teaching at Columbia, she was instrumental in launching the ACLU's Women's Rights Project, and became the leading advocate in the Supreme Court for gender equality. She was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in 1980 and to the US Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
In 2009 Forbes named Ginsburg among the 100 Most Powerful Women, Glamour named her one of their 1993 Women of the Year and in 2012 presented her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015 Time listed her as an Icon in the Time 100, and in 2016 Fortune named her one of the World's Greatest Leaders.
"It's hard to make the Bill of Rights accessible to everyone without talking down to anyone, but this fine book manages to do just that."—Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard Law School, -
"The Constitution and Bill of Rights are in the news almost every day and citizens of all ages and walks of life are hungry for more information about both. Linda has become a master at writing balanced, accessible, and insightful guides to our nation's founding documents. If you want to get informed and stay informed, pick up this book!"—Julie Silverbrook, Executive Director, The Constitutional Sources Project, -
"An even-handed model of concision and clarity that will be invaluable to any citizen interested in what the Bill of Rights means and how it is applied to real-world disputes. It is hard to imagine anyone producing a more thorough and illuminating guide for lay readers."
—Steve Chapman, syndicated columnist, Chicago Tribune, -
"Linda Monk reveals that the framers actually opposed enumerating citizens' rights in the Constitution and added the first ten amendments only because ordinary Americans insisted. It's our Bill of Rights, and its arcane language and often tortured history come brilliantly back to life in Monk's fast-paced narrative."—Woody Holton, author of the National Book Award finalist Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution, -